King Edward VIII’s abdication of the British throne for Wallis Simpson caused considerable turmoil in December 1936.
It had played out over several months in a will he or won’t he scenario that finally ended when he made a late night journey by sea to France after he and his brothers signed the abdication document.
His successor, King George VI, was on the throne, but soon had the dual turmoil of World War II and the problem of What To Do with the Duke of Windsor. There were still headaches, but fewer of them, when the Duke was posted to the Bahamas.
Time did not dim the appeal, though, of the idea of a King who gave up his throne for love.
“”Fifty-Six,” the famous ratter of Madison is dead. This dog belonged to all of us. Everybody fed him. He would not have a regular home but slept around town, often at the police station, as that he might be ready to go ratting any minute. And when “6” went ratting, rats went right on west. We will miss “56.” His work in town has been beyond valuation to our people. Taxes or no taxes, the City should be a nice little stone over “56,” with an account of his life and work “56” has done more for the world than some people do, for he fought an evil all his life.”
The county seat and main city of Brooks is Quitman. There are other towns – Boston, Morven, Dixie, Barney, part of Pavo.
But Brooks is a large county and a rural one.There are lots of pine trees and lots of places to get lost. It is perhaps not surprising that there were nearly 40 African-American schools in 1950 within its borders.
A better effort was made on behalf of Brooks’ white schools. Only eight of those existed in 1950, half of those large enough to have high schools.
The other half, however, were all four-teacher institutions, existing at Barney, East Side, Sand Hill and South Side, the latter of which might have actually been Southside. (Spellings had little consistency.)
The 1943-44 Georgia Educational Directory said there were six teachers at South Side. In 1945-46, the number was down to four. The number did not rebound at the war’s conclusion and four it would stay for the rest of its history.
South Side’s history would be short-lived.
With Georgia preferring its elementary schools to have at least one teacher per grade, many rural locations were in trouble. Though South Side’s included grades have not been found yet, a guess of 1-7 or 1-8 is probably not far off. Four teachers meant even more trouble.
If that was not trouble enough, other factors were at play as Quitman city and Brooks County worked to figure a merger as the school building programs were finishing.
South Side was not necessarily being maintained well, based on a sanitation report printed in The Quitman Free Press not even seven years after its opening.
A survey of all schools in the county listed South Side’s water and bathroom situation as having a drilled well and electric pump, but “unsanitary pit privies.”
The opening of the new, consolidated high school in Quitman meant that there was now more room at the nicer town schools to house children.
No stink seems to have been made when Brooks County announced in March 1959 that South Side would be closing, along with Barney, East Side and Sand Hill. South Side students were divided between Dixie and Quitman.
Brooks would never use the South Side building again as a school. Its status post-consolidation is unknown, though its condition in 2010 seems to suggest that someone did maintain the building for at least some time before the woods grew around it.
Though rural, South Side was not totally alone. From 1953-59, a very short distance separated it from Empress, a consolidated African-American school. Empress itself closed around 1967.
Sources – The Quitman Free Press – Jan. 6, 1949; March 19, 1959; Multiple editions of the Georgia Educational Directory; Greater Brooks.
The opening of new buildings always brought excitement to Georgia towns. That was certainly the case in late 1951 when Oak Park High debuted its new showplace.
With visitors apparently declaring it “one of the nicest and most serviceable structures of its kind,” the gymnatorium, as it was referred to, opened November 13 with games against Wheeler County High.
Wheeler won the girls game, 35-23, but Oak Park’s white-and-blue-clad boys destroyed the Alamo school, 72-39, in the finale.
Oak Park was nice enough that it hosted at least one game from out-of-county high schools. Vidalia and Lyons played there in January 1952 as neither school had its own gymnasium.
Within a decade, the air at Oak Park was decidedly different.
Few would have thought of closing the high school there in 1951, but low-attendance rural high schools who survived the consolidation efforts of the 1950s were soon out anyway under pressure from the state. Oak Park was transitioned into an elementary school in 1963. Twenty years later, the elementary was eliminated as well.
Sources: Swainsboro Forest-Blade – December 13, 1951; The Lyons Progress – January 10, 1952.
Donalsonville was hosting an attraction in February 1954. It was the latest in blood and gore that took to the road in the 1950s-60s.
If you were tempted by the bullet-riddled Bonnie and Clyde death car, this was for you:
“MARIE O’DAY’S PALACE CAR will be in Donalsonville Friday and Saturday, Feb. 5th and 6th, under the auspices of the Officers of the Donalsonville Police Department. The exhibition car has on display the body of Marie O’Day, stabbed and killed by her husband and thrown into the Great Salt Lake, where it remained for 12 years. The remarkable thing about the body is that the hair upon it is still growing. As an added attraction, reptiles from the Ross Allen Reptile Institute in Silver Springs, Fla., will be shown. The exhibition will be on display in front of the Woolfolk Avenue Police Station. No admission will be charged. Donations only.”
And in case you missed it in Donalsonville, this soon hit other cities as well.
Watch any sporting events and you’ll likely hear at least some booing of a referee or umpire by fans.
On rare occasions, the official will ask a fan to exit the building. But what if officials could really strike back, say make it really count?
For at least a few years, basketball officials could.
Not many examples have popped up from game reports, but in the 1940s-50s, the referees could turn that scowl into a foul: Free throws could be awarded for fans’ rowdyism.
Rowdyism is something that thankfully seems to have simmered down a good bit since that era. Fans can be nasty, but threats of serious violence are rare.
Fort Valley’s basketball boosters seem to have been so bad in January 1948, that the local newspaper, The Leader-Tribune was embarrassed.
“A high school basketball court is no place for prize-fight tactics. Yells of “he’s no good, take him out … kill ’em … kill the umpire” … accompanied by frequent boos and catcalls, serve only to enrage visitors and embarrass high school students, thus humiliated by the sorry spectacle of such behavior on the part of their elders.”
People from other towns were taking notice, said The Leader-Tribune, and the much-better-behaved kids were referring to it as “adult delinquency.” The paper offered some advice:
“Since we can’t set a good example, let’s follow theirs. Next time you go to a basketball game on the home court or elsewhere, take your good manners along. There is no better place to air them than in the presence of the youth of our community.”
No mentions were made of referees punishing Fort Valley, but a year earlier a young Jesse Outlar – writing for the Waycross Journal-Herald – shook his head at behavior witnessed at a Waycross-Nahunta game.
Booing caused Nahunta to be awarded nine technical foul shots on one play.
“Referee Glenn Paulk called one foul on a Bulldog player then the fans made nine in succession. As everyone knows, when the home crowd hisses and howls while an opponent attempts to shoot a free shot, then the official may call a technical foul. The fact that Nahunta missed nine of the ten is no factor.”
Outlar said most of the booing came from junior high students in the balcony, but their youth was no excuse for a negative reaction.
The rule was still on the books in 1952, when the appropriately-named Joe Sports said it almost cost the Douglas Pirates a game against Nashville.
“The boys game proved to be a different contest as the score remained close through out the game. Douglas managed to keep a few points lead until the 4th quarter when the score was tied 40 to 40. Nashville took a point lead by virtue of a technical foul called on the Douglas fans for unnecessary noise and booing. With only 40 seconds left to play, Douglas’ star forward, Bobby Green, stepped into his territory and shot. The ball sacked the net for 2 points to give the local boys a 42 to 41 win.”
Sources: The Leader-Tribune – Jan. 15, 1948; Waycross Journal-Herald – Jan. 8, 1947; Coffee County Progress – Jan. 27, 1952.
In just about every corner of Telfair County there is an abandoned school.
Lumber City is still neat, with a bell out front to remind of those bygone days of education. Weeds grow through Milan’s black school. Workmore died as a school, then died as an antique market, whose signs are still up. Rock Hill seems to beg for attention just to the side of US 441.
McRae-Helena, the conjoined county seat at Telfair’s northern tip, has its own tribunes to former education. Old South Georgia College continues to sit proudly on a hill as a museum. But barely off the middle of town is another series of abandoned buildings.
Those buildings were Central High School, which was open from 1958-2003.
There is little microfilm of The Telfair Enterprise housed at the University of Georgia from the 1950s. What took the Telfair County school system so long to get going on its school building project is hazy for an outsider, who can only suppose that the delay was either location of sites or a fight by Milan and Lumber City white high schools to stay alive.
Whatever the case, Telfair County students could only be bystanders as their schools disintegrated. Conditions grew so bad that the Telfair Enterprise ran a two-part story in 1957 highlighting them, complete with pictures.
Twin City High, the name of McRae’s black school, looked to have been a hand-me-down former white school, based on its size. An instructor in the school said the building swayed in the wind.
New schools across the county had already been planned, with the details released in February 1956. A new consolidated African-American high school (combining Twin City, Rock Hill, Milan and Lumber City) was to be located on a 20-acre tract donated by the city of McRae.
Months after the series on school conditions, Telfair was able to get started and the buildings were open in the fall of 1958.
Countians were even nice enough to approve the building of two new gymnasiums to go with their new schools, but those were not to be built until the schools were nearly finished and the new Central High played its first season of basketball on the road.
Central High swept to the state basketball titles in 1961.
C.J. Easley’s Tigerettes defeated Liberty County, 50-45, to cap an undefeated season and E. McDonald’s Tigers tripped up East Depot (LaGrange), 58-51.
No football was played at Central, perhaps in part because none of the white schools did. Central’s average daily attendance hovered around 300 for most of its existence.
Telfair began stepping up its integration efforts prior to total consolidation in 1970. In 1969, the Georgia Educational Directory lists Central as being only grades 2-12.
Post-integration Central became a middle school, serving grades 5-8, later adjusted to 4-7. In c. 1986, it was renamed Central Elementary, with grades 3-7. In c. 1989, Telfair removed its middle grades and the old school became grades 3-5. Central was shuttered in 2003, when the school system opened a new elementary school that combined primary and elementary grades.
Sources: The Telfair Enterprise – Feb. 23, 1956, Feb. 28, 1957, March 7, 1957, Nov. 21, 1957; Macon Telegraph – March 26, 1958. Multiple volumes of the Georgia Educational Directory.
School Stories is a series of current-to fairly current photos of school buildings. Some are long abandoned, some are still in use. Most will be rural or small town schools. Information is provided by newspaper archives and editions of the Georgia Educational Directory.